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We asked several attorneys throughout the U.S. how they think personal injury attorneys are viewed in the legal community. There are some attorneys who believe personal injury attorneys are just ambulance chasers. Other attorneys don't appreciate how personal attorneys represent the profession with their "cheesy" advertisements on TV, billboards, or on the sides of buses. Check out the responses below and see if you agree with the attorneys we spoke with.
I am a solo business attorney and have never done PI work. While I think there are many times when a PI attorney can help a person who has been injured, too much of the time PI work seems almost production line kind of legal representation where the pleadings and discovery are basically the same case-to-case and the attorneys are simply managing the production line. I think the images that the PI attorneys have put into the public's head that insurance companies are not fair or reasonable is inaccurate and their advertising has made many in the public think that any simple accident or transgression should result in millions being paid. The resultant expense that must be built into every insurance policy actually hurts people more than they realize.
-James M. Wilson
Wilson Law Group, PLC
The personal injury lawyer suffers from the stigma of resembling nothing more than an ambulance chaser. However, after practicing law for over a decade now I personally have a profound respect for the small business professionals that practice in personal injury law. The skill set required to practice in this area of law is very challenging and also very lucrative. The personal injury lawyer is a far cry from the caricature portrayed by Hollywood as mere ambulance chaser.
Personal Injury attorneys are just like any other field of consumer law, there are some really good personal injury attorney, some average ones and some that you wonder how they are still in practice. Some personal injury attorneys limit their practice to demands and if the case has to go to trial, they pass it off to someone else, which would not be allowed in most other areas of practice. Since a personal injury practice is based on having a steady flow of new clients, personal injury attorney seem to be some of the most aggressive advertisers in the legal field. The entire area of practice gets blamed for what is perceived to be the excesses of a few, especially when it comes to class action suits.
I have been an attorney for 17 years and my practice is primarily consumer bankruptcy with some family law cases.
Edrie A. Pfeiffer, Attorney
Hampton Roads Legal Services
I've been in law practice since 1972, concentrating primarily in estate planning, probate and other forms of office (non-litigation) practice. However, I keep up to date on what is going on in the practice of law, and I have had dealings with many personal injury attorneys on both the plaintiff side and defense side.
Without plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys who get paid on a contingent fee basis (i.e., only if they win for the client), there would be absolutely no personal or "corporate" accountability in the market place for injury, death and other personal tragedies inflicted by negligent "ordinary" persons, service providers, sales organizations, manufacturers, and other primarily commercial interests. Those attorneys work hard and shoulder enormous financial risks on behalf of very often voiceless, powerless clients. I salute them!
The legal profession takes a lot of pride in itself, and tends to be annoyed when attorneys make the profession look foolish, or unethical. It's less a matter of what type of work an attorney does, and more about how they present themselves. Most personal injury attorneys do quality work that has an important social value. But they are also disproportionately represented on TV ads and billboards. I don't make a judgment if someone tells me they do personal injury, though I might if I saw their face on the bus stop bench.
As a personal injury attorney, I think other attorneys have conflicting views of our practice and us, as personal injury attorneys.
Because personal injury attorneys work closely with the general public, our marketing efforts often require exposure that it is not common in other areas of the law. Jokes about "bus stop" marketing, television ads and radio broadcasts are common. Further, it has been my experience that other attorneys seem to assume, without justification or evidence, that personal injury attorneys push ethical boundaries.
This is in contrast to the fact that personal injury attorneys often handle the most interesting, newsworthy and lucrative cases. I think there is often an admiration by other attorneys toward personal injury attorneys given our litigation skills, as well as the size of the verdicts obtained for our clients.
It has been my experience that attorneys who practice in the area of corporate, transactional and insurance defense law view personal injury attorneys in the worst light. As opposed to attorneys who practice in the area of family and criminal law, who can appreciate the trial skills and personal client interactions required of personal injury attorneys.
Peter C. Bowman
Personal Injury & Workers' Compensation
Pavano & van der Werff
Linked in Profile<https://www.linkedin.com/in/pcbowman>
* Admitted in Connecticut, Federal District of Connecticut and New York
Personal injury attorneys often get a bad rap from the general public for two reasons: 1) They produce cheesy commercials, and 2) They "capitalize on the misfortunes of others" according to non-attorneys.
The cheesy commercials bother everyone, including other attorneys. With that being said, it is absolutely understandable why these commercials are being produced. These commercials are driving tons of clients to these attorneys on a daily basis. Whether you like them or not, they are obviously working. If they didn't work, they wouldn't keep producing/running them.
The second reason is much more of a non-attorney issue, than an attorney issue. In response, I would argue that personal injury attorneys are not doing anything different than other attorneys. This is no different from a divorce attorney who charges an individual on an hourly basis while he/she assists them through the "break of their marriage." This also isn't any different than a bankruptcy attorney who assists people through this very difficult process. It is important to keep in mind that the personal injury attorneys do not make the laws...legislators do. Thus, they are simply doing what the law allows them to do.
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